Mar 04 2010

Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain

What was the first thing that came to mind when you saw the title?  Did you think of the Wizard of Oz?  Did you picture the wizard trying to hide behind the curtain?

Why?  It asked you not to pay attention to the man.  When you use words like “Don’t”,  “Not”, or “No”, you give attention to the very thing you’re trying not to think about.

Magicians understand this principle and use it to fool the hell out of people!  It’s all about misdirection… or is it?  Let’s say a magician is hiding a coin in his right hand.  He then directs your attention away from the right hand – away from the right hand – look over here – not at the right hand – not at the right hand.  All he thinks about is his right hand!  It’s impossible for the magician to forget that hand.  The  audience may sense his concern and eventually start looking at his right hand and discover the coin.  So, does misdirection really work?  Not very well when done this way.

Now imagine the performer using his left hand to pick up a pencil.  He doesn’t worry about the right hand.  Instead, he directs all his attention to picking up the pencil.  It doesn’t matter if the audience looks at his right hand.  All attention is on the pencil.  The performer concentrates on how the pencil is grasped, how it will be used, and where it will be placed.  He has completely forgotten about the right hand which hides the coin.  It is no longer important.  This is a much better approach than the previous one, and results in there being no attention on the right hand.

Do you see the difference?  Instead of focusing on what you don’t want, direct attention towards what you do want.

Let’s translate this to a business.  One day your company decides to stop making red widgets.  They don’t sell well anymore.  It’s too costly to produce them.  Customers seem to be losing interest.  You have not said anything about replacing the product with something better.  Your focus is on not producing red widgets.  What you don’t want gets all the attention.  (Don’t, Not, No)

If you said instead, that you want to produce a blue widget, attention is properly placed on a new solution for your customer.  The change in wording your intent seems insignificant, but will create a huge difference in the outcome.

How are you directing your customer’s attention?